The Dutch business newspaper Financieele Dagblad recently hosted Wolters Kluwer CEO Nancy McKinstry and the CEO of ASML, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of chip-making equipment, Peter Wennink, for a lively dual interview. They covered a range of topics related to their leadership philosophies in this period of rapid technological innovation.
The piece introduces both CEOs to the reader, and to each other – they had never met prior to the interview, a surprising fact considering both are in the rather elite group of 25 AEX CEOs.
It continues by contrasting their different tenures at their respective companies – at Wolters Kluwer, McKinstry is the longest-serving among all AEX CEOs, while Wennink is among the newest with four years at the helm of ASML.
Customer expectations served as the lead business topic during the friendly discussion. Both CEOs highlighted the need to continuously address the customer’s insatiable need for improved productivity. McKinstry summed up her views by saying “Our customers want to keep up with the very latest developments in their field, and from us they expect selection and a way to navigate efficiently through that information. Moreover, they are all desperately looking for tools to improve productivity. How they can do something that normally takes two hours in just twenty minutes. The pressure on us to deliver that is huge.”
Part of addressing that pressure requires a greater understanding of the customer’s pain points, working more closely with the customers themselves. Transparency and co-creation are key here – challenging work, but it ultimately results in much more “sticking power” within the buyer-seller relationship.
The discussion moved on to their roles as CEO, and the way each leader makes choices for their business. McKinstry mentions her natural curiosity as a useful trait, as she visits companies in other industries to gain insights as to how they make productivity improvements.
Passion, enthusiasm and energy are important elements of the job for Wennink and for McKinstry – particularly as Wolters Kluwer continues its digital transformation. She summed it up succinctly: “As CEO, above all you have to generate energy for a team to take the next step.”
The interview concludes on a musical note, where the importance of people’s behavior within the company is likened to a jazz band. “You have to work together to make good music,” said McKinstry. “And you have to be aware of the different competencies you need to make good music.”
Read the full article in Dutch (paywalled).